A German couple had their van broken into within minutes of arriving in Whangarei and 11 months of irreplaceable photographs of their trip to New Zealand stolen.
Sven Stemme and Susan Morawski had only been in town for a few minutes on Friday when they parked outside the Mad Butcher in Walton St about 12.50pm to walk to the Town Basin to buy some pounamu as a memento of their wonderful time in the country.
But when they returned about 15 minutes later, their silver Toyota Liteace van had been broken into and their possessions rifled through and much stolen, including their plane tickets, toiletries and a bag.
Mr Stemme said the thieves also took a Lenovo laptop, hard drive and Nikon D3100 camera that contained all the images of their visit since arriving here last November.
Their passports were not taken so they can leave the country as planned on October 4.
The couple were heartbroken when they saw all their photographic memories had been stolen as they were irreplaceable.
"Just last week I got the perfect image of Tui feeding in a tree. I'd been trying to get that photo since we arrived and I finally got it, but it's gone," Mr Stemme said.
"While it's not the end of the world, and nothing compared to what has happened in Christchurch with the earthquake, those are memories we can't get back."
The pair saw a green 5-door hatchback pull up beside them just before they left the van.
"I said to Susi 'they look a bit dodgy' but then thought that it's the middle of the day in a public car park so nothing would go wrong ... but we were wrong," Mr Stemme said.
Anybody who knows about the theft can contact Whangarei police on 45304500 or or anonymously for free to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. The images can be dropped of on a hard drive, no questions asked, at the Northern Advocate office at 88 Robert St and we will ensure they get to the pair.